Psychological aspects of successful aging linked to sexual satisfaction

Psychological aspects of successful aging linked to sexual satisfaction

By William Smith

For older women, successful aging and positive quality of life is linked to sexual satisfaction according to a new study.

The researchers from the Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego have discovered successful aging, quality of life and sexual satisfaction continue to be interrelated even as the physical health of women decline between the ages of 60 and 89.

Looking good as we age may be the prime focus of many media campaigns, and while it certainly helps when we believe we look good, research suggests that sexual confidence comes just as much from internal as external stimuli. 

The report is published online in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.

Wesley K. Thompson, Ph.D., said that ‘While we cannot assess cause and effect from this study, these results suggest that maintaining a high level of sexual satisfaction may positively reinforce other psychological aspects of successful aging.’

The researchers reviewed self-reported information from 1,235 women enrolled at the San Diego site of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study.  The WHI is an ongoing research programme which, since 1993 has addressed causes of death, disability and quality of life in more than 160,000 generally healthy, post-menopausal woman.

The researchers found that sexual activity and functioning (desire, ability to climax and desire) decline as a woman aged which is what was expected.  Physical and mental health also declined, however, in contrast to sexual activity and functioning, satisfaction with overall sex life was not significantly different between the three age groups studied.  These groups were aged 60 to 69, 70 to 79 and 80 to 89.

In these three groups women reported that they were ‘moderately to ‘very satisfied’ with their sex lives.  This related to 67% of the first, 60% of the middle group and 61% of the oldest group.  This came as a surprise to the researchers who assumed that sexual satisfaction would decline with age.

 ‘Contrary to our earlier hypothesis, sexual satisfaction was not significantly associated with age,’ said Wesley K. Thompson, Ph.D.

‘Although the levels of sexual activity and functioning did vary significantly, depending on the woman’s age, their perceived quality of life, successful aging and sexual satisfaction remained positive.’ he added.

According to the researchers, the results confirm earlier findings that suggest self-rated health varies little with age even when objective health indicators show age-associated decline.

‘What this study tells us is that many older adults retain their ability to enjoy sex well into old age,’ said Thompson.

‘This is especially true of older adults who maintain a higher level of physical and mental health as they grow older. Furthermore, feeling satisfied with your sex life – whatever your levels of sexual activity – is closely related to your perceived quality of life.’ Thompson concluded.

Source: University of California – San Diego 

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